Monthly Archives: November 2010

Impressions of Seoul / 首尔给我的印象

我要说的在首尔观察什么,还有给你 们看看有些景象让我注意。我希望这样你们也能了解以下韩国。

  • 在首尔听普通话不少。地铁 上的通告都是汉语,还有韩语和英语的。还有我在首尔交行的中国朋友。

  • 在首尔没有人盯着我。不是 因为那边的外国人比在中国多。其实韩国的外国人人口只是百分之一点五。外国人当中百分之四十五都是中国人。

  • 用两手给人重要的东西(护 照,钱,名片,等等)也是韩国的文化。其实在首尔比较多。

  • 韩国人非常喜欢吃炸面饼 圈。“炸面饼圈先生”和“邓肯甜甜圈”所有的地方都有。我觉得对“蒂姆霍顿斯”来说这是很好的机会。

  • 大部分的车都是韩国的。

  • 中国啤酒比韩国的好的多。 但是韩国啤酒比莫尔森的好喝。

  • 在首尔警察很少。只是在蓝 房子还有战争博物馆遇到他们。

我在首尔玩的开心。离开那儿的时我 想想再去,但是现在朝鲜麻烦韩国,所以我不去。

Here are some observations I made while in Seoul and some pictures of scenes that caught my attention. I hope this will effectively convey my impression of Korea.

  • There’s a fair amount of Mandarin there. I heard it often enough in the streets and the subway announcements are in Mandarin, as well as English and Korean. And of course I already told you about using Mandarin to order in restaurants, and making some Chinese friends in Seoul.

  • People don’t stare at me like they do in China, and it’s not because there are more white people in Korea. Only 1.5% of the population are expats, and of those 45% are from China.

  • The custom of giving & receiving a passport, money, business card or other important document with two hands, applies in Korea as well. It’s more routinely observed in Korea though.

  • Koreans seem to like doughnuts. Dunkin’ Donuts and Mister Doughnut are everywhere. Tim Hortons should get in on the action.

  • There are very few imported cars there, the overwhelming majority of cars on the road are Korean models.

  • The beer is not as good as in China, but it’s still better than anything Molson makes.

  • In Seoul I didn’t seen many police. Their biggest presence was at the Blue House and around the War Memorial. In China they’re everywhere. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise.

That’s it for me & Korea, for now anyway. I had such a good time there that I was thinking of going back at Christmas to visit other parts of the country. That was before North Korea started throwing tantrums again.



Advertising / 广告

Sometimes when I travel I find it interesting to look at advertisements.
Either because they might tell me something about the local culture, or
just because they stand out and make me wonder what’s going on. Here a
few such ads I came across in Seoul last week.

The first is advertising walnuts as “brain food”. As you can see,
there’s a clever exploding walnut that looks like Einstein’s face. In
the bottom corner of the ad is the logo for the California Walnut
Commission. What I’d like to know is what ever possessed the California
Walnut Commission (whatever that is) to pick Korea as a target market?
Globalization may be good and it may be bad, but sometimes it’s just funny.

The second is advertising Samsonite luggage. Apparently the new line of
Cosmolite luggage is so light, that hockey players can use it as a
really great hockey stick. In Canada, I think most people would find
this ad kind of ridiculous, but at least we play hockey. Koreans don’t
even play hockey. How is this ad going to appeal to the typical Korean’s
deep-seated desire to be a hockey star? Maybe there are an inordinate
number of Canadians passing that particular pillar in Seoul’s COEX Mall,
after all, the ad isn’t even in Korean.

The last advertisement is Papa Smurf selling an LG phone. Why not?


Seoul Nightlife

Since I don’t know anyone in Seoul and since I don’t speak Korean it’s a
bit difficult to meet people. But I do speak Mandarin and as it turns
out, there are quite a number of Chinese people in Seoul. I ran into
Mandarin often enough in restaurants that I started trying to speak
Mandarin to people instead of English. They’re at least as likely to
understand it. Well, that didn’t work out any better than speaking
English first, though I got some amusing looks from some Korean staff.

Anyway, back to the nightlife. On Friday & Saturday night I went out
with some Chinese staff from one of the restaurants to experience the
Seoul nightlife. Well, to experience it the way Chinese students in
Seoul do anyway. My Chinese friends think Koreans drink too much. I
think they all drink too much. We tried some Soju, which is the Korean
version of rice wine, and ate typical Korean pub fare. Then of course I
couldn’t get away without going to karaoke for a while. It was a good time.

I’m back in China now, getting ready for the next chapter of intensive
study and (hopefully) improving my Mandarin. I’ll have a few more
anecdotes about Seoul in the next few days, before I move on to telling
you more about my life in China.


Taekwondo / 跆拳道


Today I went to see a Taekwondo demonstration. As you might know, Taekwondo is a Korea martial art. The performance was put on by a group of youngsters and adults called the K Tigers. The performance took place with Gyeonghuigung, one of Seoul’s five palaces, as a backdrop. Also, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation team that was at the temple on Thursday, was at the Taekwondo event today. I don’t think you’ll see more than the back of my head on ABC, if that.